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Santner stars again but New Zealand limp to 223

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New Zealand 223 (Santner 67, Nicholls 55, Woakes 3-32, Rashid 3-42) v England
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New Zealand’s batting, without the injured Ross Taylor, floundered in the deciding ODI against England as they struggled to 223 at Hagley Oval but Mitchell Santner’s outstanding form at least gave them hope with a career-best 67. Adil Rashid earlier fed on the pressure created by the new ball to bag 3 for 42 after Chris Woakes and Mark Wood had set the tone.

The coin fell in Eoin Morgan’s favour and he was delighted to be able to bowl first. There was a hint of movement and his decision was backed up well by his attack. Woakes struck in his first over and Wood claimed the key scalp of Kane Williamson inside the first 10 overs as New Zealand crept along at under three-an-over.

The Taylor-less middle order then slumped against the spinners – not for the first time in this series – to leave New Zealand 93 for 6 before an 84-run stand for the seventh wicket between Santner and Henry Nicholls lifted them to something more respectable.

Colin Munro announced yesterday that he would no longer play first-class cricket and his first day as an official white-ball specialist did not start well when he got a big a top edge against Woakes while trying to work into the leg side. Other than his 49 in Wellington, it has been a single-digit series for Munro with scores of 6, 1, 0 and 0.

Woakes has produced outstanding first spells throughout: 5-0-14-2, 5-1-18-2, 5-1-13-1, 5-2-14-1 and 6-1-13-1 – Morgan giving him the extra over today after Williamson departed in the 10th.

It was a smart piece of bowling from Wood to dismiss the New Zealand captain, delivered from wider on the crease and cramping him for room, taking a bottom edge into leg stump.

There was a tweak to the New Zealand order with the in-form Tom Latham pushed up to No. 4 ahead of Taylor’s replacement, Mark Chapman, and alongside Guptill they briefly steadied the innings although could not raise the tempo much. Latham fell to a soft shot, chipping Rashid to midwicket although it was a nicely flighted delivery which brought the error.

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Chapman’s stay was very brief. He played back to a delivery from Moeen Ali which straightened a touch but Chapman missed it by an alarming amount to be bowled.

Guptill briefly broke the shackles when he lofted Rashid over long-off for the first six of the day, but attempting to maintain the aggression against Rashid – something Taylor had spoken about as being key to their chase in Dunedin – he found Ben Stokes at cover who held a stinging, low catch which went to TV, but the soft signal had been out and it was clearly held. Colin de Grandhomme has played a couple of useful hands in the series, not least his powerful cameo in Dunedin, but here produced another ill-judged loft down to long-on with nearly half the innings remaining.

Consolidation finally came from Nicholls and Santner, the former who struck the winning six three days ago but has struggled for runs and the latter who has been in the form of his life. They were forced to play carefully, but rotated the strike and picked up the occasional boundary – Santner plonking Moeen down the ground and Nicholls putting Joe Root over midwicket.

Morgan’s tactics were interesting. Having bowled both Rashid and Moeen straight through their 10 overs, the innings was deep with very little of the fifth bowler used. Root was then introduced for two overs and Tom Curran did not get his first bowl until the 40th over.

Nicholls’ fifty came from 73 balls before he skied a Curran slower ball into the off side. Santner was by far the more fluent, bringing up a 60-ball half-century when he drilled a full toss from Curran down the ground. He was dropped on 57, a dolly of a chance at backward point to Moeen. A six over midwicket, again off Curran who had to bowl six consecutive overs at the death, took him to a career-best score for the second time in the series before Woakes became the first England bowler to dismiss him in his four innings.

The recalled Alex Hales, who earned a late chance after Jason Roy suffered a back spasm, made excellent ground at deep midwicket. But if that was good, Jonny Bairstow’s grab, running around the leg-side boundary two balls later, taking it one-handed moving at full pace, was something special.

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